Latino artists report lower rates of health insurance, greater economic losses and higher unemployment. A higher number of them have seen their health or their family’s health directly impacted by COVID-19.

Latino artists and COVID

Adi Talwar

Martha Nora Zarate-Alvarez founder and Artistic Director of Mazarte Dance Company practicing with her team in Central Park on a cold Sunday in December 2020.

This article originally appeared in Spanish.

Lea la versión en español aquí.

It’s been clear for months that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Latinos. Less visible is that this disparity also applies to the arts.

Latino artists not only report higher economic losses than white artists but also higher unemployment rates due to the pandemic. They are also more likely to be uninsured, and to have seen their health or their family’s health directly affected by COVID-19. They report greater family or social responsibilities that have impacted their ability to do creative work.

All of these differentiated impacts are visible in preliminary data obtained by City Limits from surveys conducted by Americans for the Arts in partnership with Artist Relief, organizations that since April have been taking the pulse of individual artists and creative workers at the national, state and local levels.

A national story

According to the survey, 70 percent of Latino artists have become totally unemployed due to COVID-19 nationally, compared to 60 percent of white artists. Additionally, 80 percent of Latino artists have experienced an increase in unexpected expenses, compared to 64 percent of white artists.

The pandemic has reduced more than half of the expected income for all artists in 2020. Both groups have seen a massive drop in income (58.3 percent for Latinos and 57.5 percent for whites), although nationally white artists expected to earn more than Latino artists in 2020: $40,000 versus $36,000, respectively.

The pandemic has also hit artists’ savings: 66 percent of Latino artists report no savings at present, compared to 48 percent of white artists. Those disparities were visible, though less dire, even before the pandemic, when 35 percent of Latino artists had no savings compared to 24 percent of white artists.

“I will say that, for certain, the pandemic has disproportionately affected Latinx artists, as their families and communities have been hardest hit,” says Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, Creativity and Free Expression Program Officer at Ford Foundation.

At the same time, more Latino artists are uninsured, in line with the national trend among Latinos overall: Just over half (53 percent) of Latino artists have comprehensive health insurance, compared to 73 percent of white artists.

“Artists were struggling before the pandemic, and now it is more,” says Marta Moreno Vega, founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute and president and founder of the Creative Justice Initiative (CJI), an organization advocating for the equitable funding of cultural organizations in the country.

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